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Media, May & June 2024

In lieu of regular weeknotes, here are things I’ve been seeing, reading and listening to since I last wrote.

Music

Only a couple of albums have grabbed me recently, which is a shame.

Bright Future by Adrianne Lenker is excellent, slow, percussion-free, open:

Then, when I’ve needed a pick-me-up from too much of that kind of thing, Charli xcx’s BRAT, which you’ve probably all heard, was just the hyperpop ticket:

360 on YouTube

TV

We finished watching Shōgun which was obviously well made and looked great and felt like quality. I’m not sure how much I enjoyed it though. It was fine. But John Blackthorne was relentlessly annoying. And I realise that the other characters’ passions and rages were held at bay by the polite societal strictures of the time and place, but that did [whispers] make it a bit boring.

I’ve re-watched the first three seasons of Veep which was exactly the distraction I needed at times. I know good sleep hygiene involves no screens just before bed, but an episode or two of Veep really flushed away everything else from the day and resulted in a good night’s sleep every time.

I started watching How To with John Wilson (on iPlayer) last year and I’ve slowly plodded through it. At first – having had no idea what the format was – I mostly enjoyed it. He found interesting and unusual people and, a bit like Louis Theroux or Jon Ronson, got through to the person behind the surface bluster. It was quite touching at times. And New York seemed exciting and strange.

I’ve made it most of the way through the third and final season and I’ve ground to a halt. I don’t know if the show changed or if I did. But now the unusual people are just weird and annoying, with little sensitivity beyond the surface, and New York seems relentlessly grim. I come away feeling grubby, so that’s probably enough.

We saw the sixth and final season of Snowfall (also on iPlayer) and it not only continued the usual standard but managed unexpected and satisfying endings to the whole thing. I’m still surprised how little I hear anyone talking about this show but I guess enough people must have watched it to generate 60 episodes.

We watched season one of Black Ops (yes, iPlayer) which was quite fun. The characters were a bit too one-note at times which was grating, but not enough to stop watching through six episodes, and we’ll probably be back when it returns.

And then there was the third and final season of The Outlaws, the name of which I struggle to remember (Outsiders? Offenders?) (yes, yes, also iPlayer). This was a bit disappointing. I was assuming they’d fall into another crazy, fun caper but instead it felt like just wrapping up the one that had all but ended in season two. Six episodes is a lot of time in which to wrap up an almost-finished story. Despite some efforts, it didn’t feel like much was at stake, there was little tension, and the Gabby and Greg sub-plot was a distraction. And Rani, who was previously an interesting and conflicted character, was oddly one-dimensional this time round. Ah well. Still worth watching the first two seasons.

We did leave iPlayer for both seasons of We Are Lady Parts (on Channel 4) which was very fun. Quite light but, you know, with a message and just, enjoyable, silly, and similar adjectives. Some great lines and moments, and the songs were better, and better performed, than I was expecting – it all fit so well together. Recommended.

Films

The only movie we’ve seen, and that on TV, was Hit Man (Richard Linklater, 2023). Everyone I’ve seen discussing this has loved it and, in general, I like Linklater’s movies. This was fine, you know. I found myself getting bored towards the end, which is maybe just me – it seems common for me with films these days. Maybe I was just expecting, or hoping for, something that this wasn’t supposed to be, I don’t know.

Books

I read Hari Kunzru’s Red Pill which was good and perhaps not supposed to be enjoyable, given the protagonist’s descent into obsessive paranoia. I also find novels about writers writing a bit tricky, too much “write what you know”.

And I read Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test, which I’d been thinking of reading for years. It was great, and just what I needed, and I sped through it in a couple of days. Really interesting and really enjoyable. Some non-fiction books are very “this book could have been an article” but this was like a collection of related long articles, in a good way.

TikTok

My TikTok watching is sporadic – I won’t watch any for a couple of weeks and then I’ll spend too much time in there for a week. Some accounts I’ve followed over the past couple of months:

  • @lagomchef – quick, fun demos of cooking stuff
  • @danthecobbler – a cobbler in Tring demonstrating repairs to shoes
  • @stevenhitchcockbespoke – cutting suits etc on Savile Row
  • @smuzzo – a nice guy cycling from the UK to Australia, after 24 days, he’s in Zurich. Further than many expected…
  • @minutecryptic – explaining individual cryptic crossword clues
  • @samlowcooks - explaining different varieties of things in Asian supermarkets etc.

I’ve also been pleased to see @dk_dreamouse get their place as-good-as-finished. Worth watching the transformation from the first post if you have a few hours to spare.


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